Good and Bad News About the Coming Football Season
Dr. Anthony Fauci believes there could be a football season this fall, as long as players test negative for coronavirus before the game and stadiums are empty. He was talking about the National Football League on Peter King's "Football Morning in America" on NBC this morning. But his comments can be extrapolated to college football as well.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House COVID-19 Task Force says things could change by September in terms of coronavirus.
But, if the season were to start today, Fauci told King it would be impossible to play because there is still too much infection around. He calls a packed football stadium a breeding ground for a rapid rise in infections.
“The virus will make the decision for us,” he told King.
Fauci told viewers it is not just the fans who would be at risk, "This is a respiratory virus, so it’s going to be spread by shedding virus. The problem with virus shedding is that if I have it in my nasal pharynx, and it sheds and I wipe my hand against my nose — now it’s on my hand. You see, then I touch my chest or my thigh, then it’s on my chest or my thigh for at least a few hours. Sweat as such won’t transmit it. But if people are in such close contact as football players are on every single play, then that’s the perfect set up for spreading. I would think that if there is an infected football player on the field — a middle linebacker, a tackle, whoever it is it — as soon as they hit the next guy, the chances are that they will be shedding virus all over that person."
Fuaci sent chills through fans when he remarked that if things have not improved markedly by the time the season is scheduled to begin in September, there will be no season. "I say you can’t have a season — it’s impossible." he added.
The clock is ticking quickly toward the college and pro seasons. Alabama director of athletics Greg Byrne has remained optimistic that football season will take place on time and as scheduled. However, he recently told a virtual town hall for Tide Pride members that a decision about whether there will be changes to the upcoming football season will have to be made within the next two months.
At the heart of the matter on the college level discussions at the NCAA, SEC and other conference offices and schools is the safety of players and fans. Safety from the virus and also having enough time to prepare for the season safely. Some coaches believe teams need at least six weeks to prepare properly for the season. Most college and high school teams teams are scheduled to begin preseason practices in August.
Byrne and others are backing a plan for every fan attending a game to wear a face mask. There are actually photographs from the 1918 season, in the midst of the Spanish Flu Pandemic, showing fans at a Georgia Tech game wearing masks. The Spanish Flu killed almost 700,000 in the U.S. and near 50,000,000 worldwide.
But as bad as the Spanish Flu Pandemic was, Fauci has in the past described the coronavirus as much more contagious.
The key to when or if we have high school, college or pro seasons rests on negative growth in the spread of the virus and significant drops in the death rate. The first big test for that is ongoing as Tuscaloosa, Alabama and dozens of other states begin to reopen amid recommendations to continue follow safety protocols by washing hands frequently, social distancing, covering your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze and staying home when possible.
Basically kickoff of the 2020 season if dependent upon you and me.